Casual

Where:
Samsen (FB Page)
68 Stone Nullah Lane
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

FYN Hot Tip:  It’s pretty much opposite Stone Nullah Tavern and next to the 7-11.

Phone:
+852 2234 0001 (I suspect they probably don’t do bookings because they’re pretty tiny and they’re already rammed, so why would they want to take bookings from you HK flakey assholes??)

Price:
We went as a party of two and got out at HKD300 a person.  If you went with more people, it’d probably be less than that though (maybe HKD200 – 250?).

The deal:
Adam Cliff, formerly of Chachawan fame, has set up a small Thai joint in Wan Chai.  I have always fucking loved the food at Chachawan but I don’t actually go all that often because I’m a grumpy fat fuck who hates waiting so the whole no booking palaver and then being jammed into a tiny, noisy as fuck space doesn’t jive with my corpulent existence.  Ms This is Bullshit and I are dead set keen for fucking delicious Thai food all of the time so we tumble into Samsen on a Friday night, which has only been open for five days. It’s a cool spot which doesn’t seat all that many people, with an open kitchen which allows you to see the chefs hauling some serious ass.  The interior is cute as fuck, all stripped down concrete with Thai-style cabinets holding Thai themed curios as potted devil’s ivy plants trail downwards in the space above the dining area.  Samsen is already pretty packed despite having no social media blitz or publicity, but we manage not having to wait for a table and sit down to examine Samsen’s straight forward menu which is split into five categories – wok fried dishes, sides, soup noodles, drinks and sweets.

As it’s FRI-FUCKING-YAY, we’re all about getting some hard liquor into our lives ASAP and unfortunately there’s only beer under their alcohol section.  We ask our extremely sweet though ultimately not very helpful waitress if there’s any non-beer alcohol options and she kindly points us to the fruit juice section.  I ask again, perhaps thinking she didn’t understand me and she directs me to the non-alocholic fizzy section.  Not willing to take the health hint, I look at her, eyes wild and tongue parched, frazzled jobitis desperation seeping from every pore as I ask whether they can give me some rum or vodka to put in some juice and she offers me a young coconut instead.  FUUUUUCK, I don’t need electrolytes or your judgment Samsen, I just need hard liquor to take the pain away of my everyday working for the goddamn man existence.

vodka

I ask another waiter just to make sure and he politely apologises because they’ve only been open for five days and I accept my boozeless fate as I glumly sip down on a healthful calamansi lime soda as we make some choices for dinner.  Our waitress appears again with a stack of notes to indicate off-menu items and to also cross off half the soup noodles which aren’t available.  She’s extremely endearing but her ability to explain the dishes is not amazing, but it doesn’t matter because she’s smiling like it’s going out of fashion and considering the normally very sullen landscape of HK waitresses, I’ll take any shred of enthusiasm and beatific smiles that someone will hand out to me.

The dishes fly out of the kitchen at break neck speed with all three of our dishes arriving within seconds of each other.  We start with the fried marinated pork collar with tomato and chilli dip (HKD68).  Crispy as fuck pieces of pork are fried with garlic and whole kaffir lime leaves and the tomato and chilli dip is spicy, piquant and with just enough sweet to make it pop.  I could have shovelled this into my face like some sort of porky, low carb savoury popcorn treat all day.

We also predictably ordered the Pad Thai with prawn (HKD118) because as I outlined in my Mak Mak review, I use the phrase “Shoulda had the pad thai” to explain that feeling when you try to lead a new and adventurous life and do something different to mix your boring, shit up and then all you’re left with is the fuck no sinking feeling of disappointment and wistful dreams of fuck yeah, reliable favourites.  Why would I take any chances at Samsen and be all too bad so sad, shoulda had the pad thai while  staring down a plate of pad siew or some omelette when I’m all about that sweet, sweet pad thai option? Thank fuck for being predictable because Samsen’s pad thai is fucking MAJOR.  It looks fucking awesome, shreds of fresh green papaya, white de-tailed beansprouts, fresh spring onions and crushed peanuts all piled onto the flat rice noodles.  The prawns are a very decent size, plump and juicy as fuck and there’s a bang on balance between sweet and sour, more flavour from the dried shrimps, fried cubes of tofu for texture and a good amount of wok hei / char in the noodle.  There’s some green leaf on the side which I’m not sure what it is and I can’t get any explanation from the waitstaff but it doesn’t matter because fuck yeah pad thai is life and who cares about learning shit about vegetables when you’ve got carbs and you’re alive??

But as Rihanna sings in my favourite summer jam of 2016, BABY THIS IS WHAT I CAME FOR – the Wagyu beef boat noodle (HKD128).  Ms Siuwaan had sent me photos a week ago and I was all “This needs to be in my face naooooo”.  Beef boat noodles (kua tiao ruea) originates from being sold from boats on the canals of Bangkok and it’s rice noodles in a strong flavoured soup, with many accompaniments.  The soup gets it colour and viscosity from using cow or pigs blood and is seasoned with dark soy sauce.  Samsen’s boat noodle is just on fire with so much flavour that I’m getting emotional writing about it right the fuck now.  The fairly thick soup stock is already bold from the beef stock, blood and soy sauce but then it’s also spiced with all sorts of good shit – I’m just an asshole food blogger with no actual knowledge as to what’s going on in Samsen’s fuck yeah broth but I’m guessing there was potentially lemongrass, pepper, coriander, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and galangal (maybe??) getting all up in the soup stock club.  Either way, it’s deep soup love and you then combine that with the thin rice noodles, the fuck yeah spiced chunks of tender Wagyu beef, beef balls, fried pork rinds and the large stems of Thai watercress / morning glory / kang kong and it’s mighty fuck yeah noms emotional times for me.  YASSSS, LIGHTNING DOES STRIKE EVERY TIME YOU MOVE.

incomingfeels

We didn’t pile in too heavy on the mains because Ms This is Bullshit and I know that there’s three Thai desserts that we wanna slam down.  There’s a special item on, the tab tim krob (HKD52), which was explained pretty poorly to us as “red rubies” and that was about it, but we get it anyway.  It’s fucking delicious and refreshing as fuck – a cool slightly sweet coconut milk soup, with some pandan overtones, over crushed ice with pomegranate and these slightly gelatinous red dumpling-esque items floating about.  I try to grill the wait staff on what the red dumpling things are and one of them tells me it’s a “red ruby” from Israel and they think it’s a fruit.  Through some FYN investigation I can tell you there’s some crossed wires going on with their waiters.  I think what the waiter meant to tell me is that the pomegranate seeds are from pomegranates that Samsen have sourced from Israel and the red dumpling things chilling out in the soup are the “tab tim krob”, which translates to crunchy rubies or pomegranates and are actually small pieces of red dyed water chestnut covered in tapioca flour, to give it that gelatinous bite.  Technicalities aside, it’s super appealing, icy fuck yeah times and perfect for hot as hell HK summer times.

Ms This is Bullshit is all about the young coconut ice-cream (HKD58), which is two scoops of coconut ice-cream topped with toasted peanuts, shaved coconut meat and sweet corn, all served in a coconut shell.  We round off our triple dessert efforts with Thai mango and sticky rice (HKD52) which is always one of my fuck yeah Thai faves despite its simplicity.  Yasssss, get that condensed milk, sweet mango and sticky, glutinous rice into my life and then make sure you drink any sort of liquid to ensure that it swells up in my stomach and has me rolling around all night feeling like I’m gonna burst from good times and replete happiness.

fat-cat-roll

With that we roll ourselves out of Samsen, straight into Stone Nullah Tavern for whiskey and reflect upon how much we fucking loved Samsen and just how rad the food was.   Sure, the service is slightly clueless and a bit all over the place, but our waitress was so well intentioned and smiley that I can’t even be mad.  But ultimately, there’s a fuck tonne of love and care being poured into what they’re doing and in this city littered with privileged bankrolled no-thought bullshit ‘concepts’ opening all the time, you just need someone to give a fuck about what they do at an affordable price point to make you feel that it’s all gonna be ok.  Even if you can’t get hard liquor to wash it all down with.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhhhhhhh! It’s probably gonna be a total shit show to get a seat but fuuuuck, I need to get my fuck yeah boat noodles on again ASAP.

Where:
Why50
Shop E, G/F, Fu Fai Commercial Centre
27 Hillier St, Sheung Wan
Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 5239 8013 (but when I tried to call this number to pre-order shit, no one picked up)

Price:
HKD86 for a Cubano sandwich.  About HKD40 for coffee?  DON’T QUOTE ME ON COFFEE PRICES.

The deal:
Ms Two Serves got a sweet taste for Why50’s Cubano sandwich a few weeks ago and I was on the receiving end of a flurry of excited text messages.  But just like a raver desperately trying to catch that sweet high of her first pinger, her subsequent visits to Why50 were still all good Cubano times but plagued by execution issues.  Like when she called 20 minutes ahead to put her order in because Why50 apparently take fucking forever to make a sandwich and when she arrived she was still told that it’d be another 30 minutes while a girl behind the counter lovingly and delicately cut up a banana for 15 minutes which was eventually going to be pulverised through a blender.

So despite the warning shots of impending ineptitude flying past my head, I teed up Ms Two Serves to meet me at Why50 so I could try this Mr Cubano sandwich because fuck, I just want to believe that my big fuck yeah sandwich dreams can come true in HK:

wanttobelieve

Based on the shitshow we were anticipating, I tried to call ahead to pre-order two Cubanos but one number I found online didn’t work and the other rang out.  I messaged Ms Two Serves and said that I couldn’t pre-order and she immediately exclaims “HELLZ NAWWW, ain’t nobody got time to wait for them to make sandwiches” and stomps down there ahead of time, putting in our order as the ONLY customer in the shop.  When I arrive at Why50, I realise that we’ve got another homie on the way so I try to order another Cubano.  That’s when I’m met by a blank stare by a waitress that we like to call Silverlox and she says “No Cubanos….We are sold out”.  I take a moment to pause and with an incredulous look at the empty cafe which hasn’t even really hit lunch time yet, I ask Silverlox “Really?  How??”  and she says they’ve run out of bread.  Why50, this ain’t good news for your lunch trade if our order for TWO Cubanos at 12:15pm has completely cleaned out Why50 ‘s lunch supply of bread.

kevingarnetareyouserious2

I look at Silverlox, wild eyed and desperate, while gesturing at their menu and asking “What else can I order instead?”, seeing that of the eight menu items, no less than THREE contain my darkest nemesis, brioche.  Sensing my weakness she looks at me glassily, saying that they have plenty of brioche left.  Ms Two Serves had already ordered the Brioche French Toast before I got there.  But ugh, I give this scenario a fuck noooooooo, seeing as I’m not a 4 year old French child who wants something to dunk into my cocoa and especially because my greatest contribution to the internet to date has really been the below:

fuckbrioche

Denied our third Cubano, Ms Two Serves and I watch the Why50 Cubano machine slowly sputter into life, with its three-man kitchen staff indolently making our sandwiches.  25 minutes after our order, they appear and despite what I consider to be a fucking outrageous time to wait for a sandwich when there is NO ONE ahead of you in the queue, it looks fucking glorious.  Slices of ham, roasted pork, melted Swiss cheese pickles and mustard on two fuck yeah pieces of toasted Bread Elements bread which was all working together for fuck yeah sandwich times. There’s also a side of tomato and mango salsa on the side which is a nice touch and the sweet and sour thing it’s got going on, pairs well with the ham, cheese and mustard. It’s hefty and a big feed for one person and perhaps there is still reason to dream that good sandwiches are possible in HK.  Even if in typical HK service terms, it’s such a fucking drama to actually obtain one.

At this point, Ms Two Serves’ French Brioche Toast is 40+ minutes post order and still not in existence.  She chases it up with the kitchen to see if they’ve forgotten and Silverlox confidently reassures us that no, they haven’t forgotten about her order, it’s still in process.  LIKE WHY50, WHY ALMOST 50 MINUTES FOR BASIC TOAST BASED FOOD?  JUST LET ME CHECK MY WATCH TO SEE HOW LONG THIS IS TAKING:

casiofuck

When the Brioche French Toast finally arrives it’s so fucking sad, even once I account for my burning hatred for fucking brioche.  It’s barely been battered by egg, so it’s effectively just toasted dried out brioche, with creme fraiche dumped on top with a few strawberries scattered around.  For HKD80 and almost 50 minutes of our precious time.  Ms Two Serves pushes it around her plate, lamenting her sorry excuse for French toast, swearing that she’s gonna make her own tomorrow for breakfast.  Which she did and texted me about, proudly declaring that it took her less than 15 minutes to make French toast that was properly battered.

I always think about HK restaurants who complain about their blood thirsty landlords who make profits a near impossible, due to their rent.  But then I think about HK restaurants who are leaving so much money on the goddamn table because they do stupid shit like not keeping me awash in liquor or turning shit around at a pace faster than a snail’s crawl.  Why50, I know you’re meant to be named after the fact that there’s 50 beans in every cup of coffee but fuuuuuck, that Sheung Wan rent can’t be cheap so Y U no have enough bread to make more than two Cubanos at lunch and more importantly, WHY ALMOST 50 MINUTES FOR BASIC BREAD BASED FOODS??

Verdict:
Fuck no because I just cannot with waiting 30+ minutes for a sandwich when you have less than five people ordering food.  Despite the fact that their Cubano sandwiches are a big fuck yeah which I would most definitely like to eat again.

Where:
Morty’s Delicatessen
Shop 2-14 Lower Ground Floor, Jardine House 1
Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 3665 0900.  You can also order your sandwich shizz online – fuck yeahhhh, welcome to the future HK. BUT  WHO WILL WE FAX NOW?!

Price:
HKD148 for the large Reuben sandwich meal.  +10% service charge if you eat it in the restaurant.

The deal:
Hong Kong is the business for so many fucking things, but there is some shit that it is just NO GOOD at.  Such as how to use an umbrella in a crowd, websites, walking in a straight line and bearable humidity levels during the months of July and August.  In this category of HK fails, I’d also add sandwiches.  I don’t know why it’s so fucking hard to get a decent sandwich in HK but I’d heard some good shit about Morty’s, a New York style delicatessen, which has just opened in the lower ground floor of Jardine House.  Sandwich related hope in HK is indeed a bold proposition and seizing upon this tiny sliver of carb related hope, I rounded up two of my best American homies, Ms Two Serves and Ms Siuwaan, so we could get our fill of carbs and stacks of pastrami.

morganfreemanhope

Morty’s is doing some brisk trade and we pulled a time-tested HK move and got there right at 12pm to secure a table.  The menu offers a number of different sandwiches, smoked meat and specialty sandwiches, including all the big bangin’ classics you’d expect such as the Reuben, Classic Pastrami, Club Sandwich and the Grilled Cheese.  I went for the Reuben because if I was gonna judge whether Morty’s had its NY sandwich game on, I didn’t want it to be on some bullshit new age smoked truffle chicken sandwich with grilled shiitake mushrooms, arugula and truffle mayo.

The Morty’s claim is that its pastrami is “cured between 5 & 21 days, rubbed with a top secret spice blend & then slowly smoked with techniques passed on by Morty’s great-grandfather”. The menu also declares proudly in caps that “ALL SANDWICHES INCLUDE HALF PICKLE & FRIES OR HOUSE SALAD”.  I predictably went for fries because fuck me, I ain’t interested in that house salad bullshit.  I did watch half a dozen or so paunchy office workers sigh and choose the limp, uninspiring salad to earn the privilege of being able to report to their over priced personal trainer that they did indeed forego potential spud related happiness for the “right choices”, in a forlorn attempt to stave off their fat fuck destiny that’s written in their desk bound existence in the money mills.

shut up about your diet

When our sandwiches arrive, they look fucking great.  Three layers of bread and a fuck yeah looking slab of pastrami in there, with a pile of fries on the side.  However, once we catch sight of the pickle on the side, our entire table has a flashback to the ALL CAPS menu claim of “HALF PICKLE” and we stare down what looks more like a quarter of a tiny ass pickle.  Ms Siuwaaan is even less impressed, declaring it to be a mere eighth of a pickle.  To add insult to injury, Morty’s not-really-a-half pickle is also entirely lack lustre, a soggy-ass mess with not enough piquancy or brine to make it fucking pop.  For me, I imagined that this is what it feels like when a pickle gives up on life.  One of my lunch comrades went past the existential pickle problems I was imagining and went straight to much saltier territory, declaring that it felt like a flaccid dick in her mouth. Either way you take it, fuck no to limp, impotent pickles.

van-damme-snake

I pile into my sandwich and the menu had described it as “Slow Smoked Pastrami, Swiss Cheese, Thousand Island Dressing & Sauerkraut on House Rye”.  First off, Morty’s pastrami is fucking great.  I got the medium fatty brisket and the spicing and cure on the pastrami is fucking delicious.  Look, I’m sure there’s better pastrami available in the USA but as far as HK goes, Morty’s pastrami is legit.  However, Ms Siuwaaan and Ms Two Serves were less impressed, as they had ordered fatty brisket which looked remarkably like medium to lean brisket.  But this is the thing, a sandwich has to be the sum of all its parts and as I plowed through my gut-buster of a large Reuben Sandwich more and more flaws became apparent.  I started off pretty fucking excited about my sandwich but with each bite, I became less enamoured with what was going down.  Why was the Swiss cheese not melted enough?  Why was the only indication that there was even Thousand Island Dressing on my sandwich was the fact that I could see some pink sauce in there but couldn’t taste a fucking thing?  How come the sauerkraut was much the same, physically there but from a taste perspective it was bland as fuck, with none of the sour, fermented kick you would expect from sauerkraut?  The house rye bread was adequately fine but if you’d switched it out for country white bread, I’m not sure I could have tasted the difference as it didn’t have any of that dense, chewy and deeper flavour that I’d hope to get from a rye bread.  The fries that came with my sandwich were also completely unremarkable, so much so that I even left fries behind.  And trust me, deep fried potatoes with salt should be an easy fuck yeah slam dunk which generally sees me shovelling them into my face until they’re all gone.  All I can think about is that this is a sandwich that has been created to look the part, but no one has thought about it critically as a whole.

So the three of us sit there, our souls weary and Ms Siuwaan looks at us with heavy eyes and heart, stating simply “I don’t even know why I get excited about anything new in HK anymore, because it always ends in disappointment”.  So we sit there in silence with our cold fries and untouched sad-ass looking salads and allow yet another HK sandwich related tidal wave of ennui soak us to our jaded, worn out bones, as the shards of any sort of HK carb related glory lay shattered around our feet.

Verdict:
Fuck no.  Cause as I texted someone later that day – “Sad pickle.  Sad sandwich.  Sad carbs = sad fucking times”.

Where:
Soo Viet
247 Des Voeux West
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2858 1855 (I don’t think it’s a booking kind of place though)

Price:
Mr Judgmental and I got out at HKD110 each, but he’s also a remorseless eating machine who forces me to be a better person.  Other people will probably spend less than HKD100 per head.  No service charge.

homerdonuts

The deal:
One of my loyal FYN homies chimed in on the Fuck Yeah Noms FB post (fuck yeahhh, like that good shit already) regarding my FYN review of Pho Bar and gave up the secret regarding the existence of Soo Viet.  She expertly claimed that while the pho was good at Soo Viet, the real star was the bun bo hue, which required you to pre-order it as this gave the restaurant enough time to prepare the stock and get their asses down to the wet market for the right ingredients.  This of course sent me into a frenzy and I messaged Soo Viet to find out how I could secure bun bo hue for lunch time and was given the fuck yeah news that they now have enough supplies to have bun bo hue on offer all the time.

Mr Judgmental and I sit down in the tiny restaurant and experience some confusion as to why they’ve chosen to feature prominently a massive blow up poster of an article for when the Soo Viet owner used to be the bar manager of Xperience, a bar in Wan Chai.  The menu is extensive and things are quite ambiguously named, so we narrow our choices based on what was deemed worthy of a photo and some chats with the owner.  This is how we end up with a fuck yeah serve of the SOO Viet Egg Roll (HKD43) (cha gio), fried pork spring rolls which you wrap in lettuce leaves, Vietnamese mint and mint, before dipping it in a sharp vinegar and fish sauce based dipping sauce.  I’m always partial to a bit of deep fried action and I can’t help but think that Le Garcon Saigon probably serve something similar but charge you HKD168 for it.  These fuck yeah spring rolls do go someway in easing our disappointment that the SOO Viet Ban Xeo Crepe (HKD55) is only available at night.

Mr Judgmental insists that our incoming two bowls of noodles is insufficient for our daily carb requirements and orders a Soo Viet Banh Mi (HKD42).  It’s tasty enough with the standard mix of pate, Vietnamese pork sausage, pickled daikon and carrots and coriander.  It’s all served on a baguette which hits a good balance between a soft inside and a crusty exterior, but not so fucking crusty that you end up with some sort of eating related injury by cutting your mouth up to shit. I won’t make bold claims that it’s the best banh mi in HK but I wouldn’t tell you that you need to definitely get involved either.

We predictably get a serve of Soo Viet’s pho, which is titled as the Soo Viet Noodle Soup (HKD65) and is your mega-serve of rare beef pho with all the trimmings (beef balls, tripe and Vietnamese sausage).  It’s tasty and I enjoyed it a lot but it falls more in the category of quick and easy beef pho vs the delicious as fuck, rich stock of Pho Bar which has been created with the deep, slow cooked pho stock concept in mind.  In fuck yeah times though, there is a generous serve of beef, tripe and other ingredients which has gotta rate for some points because there’s nothing sadder when you eat two measly slices of beef and half a beef ball and realise that you’ve come to the end of your “deluxe” pho experience and it’s just mint stalks, rice noodles and stock from here on in.

But it’s when we get to the off-menu, Hue specialty, the bun bo hue (HKD50) that shit really gets real.  We tried to quiz our waitress to find out if there were other off-menu items that we needed to get involved with but she assured us that this was it.  A bun bo hue is a spicy soup made by boiling down beef bones with lemongrass, baby bird eye chillies and fermented shrimp paste (mam ruoc).  When compared to a pho it’s got more of a sour, spicy jive to it and then uses a firmer round rice noodle vs the standard flat rice noodle.  Soo Viet don’t skimp on the ingredients and top this noodle bowl with beef shank, basil, coriander, fresh onions, shallots, Vietnamese sausage and lemongrass.  There’s also thinly shredded purple banana blossoms which Soo Viet fly in from Vietnam, rather than taking the easier option of just substituting in the cheaper and more readily available red cabbage.  The stock and the beef shank is really where it’s at though and the mix of flavours from the spice from the chillies, the deep beef stock and the fermented shrimp paste creates some real fuck yeah feelings for the bargain price of only HKD50.

opramindblown

So as it turns out, the best fuck yeah dish we had at Soo Viet is the one that isn’t on the menu.  This is where I am always and forever grateful for my benevolent and kind FYN homies who share the love and wanna keep me in FUCK YEAH NOMS.  And now all of us can share in Soo Viet’s bun bo hue fuck yeah secrets.  So to my best FYN homies, let it be known that always and forever, my love will run deep for you – cause my FYN homies clearly are the BEST FUCK YEAH HOMIES.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhh! Cheap and tasty as fuck Vietnoms – most importantly, I’m still dreaming about the bun bo hue.  Yeah, you Sai Ying Pun assholes are most def gonna be into this good shit.

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